- Why conventional air conditioning is not suitable for heating
- What is a heat pump
- Advantages and disadvantages of heating with heat pumps
- How to choose a heat pump for heating your home in winter
Heating is one of the standard features provided in most modern split systems. However, this option, designed to work only in the off-season, should not be confused with heating, which implies the possibility of using the air conditioner as a full-fledged source of thermal energy even in winter. Not all models can cope with such a task. Only air conditioners with a heat pump function are suitable for heating. If you still do not know how they differ from ordinary analogues, then we suggest that you read this article, which contains detailed information on this topic.
Why conventional air conditioning is not suitable for heating
If the split system is not designed for constant operation in winter with its severe frosts, then operation contrary to the manufacturer’s instructions will lead to icing of the outdoor unit, which may cause the compressor to overheat and burn out. It will be difficult to eliminate such a breakdown, and the cost of repairs will be comparable to the purchase of new climate control equipment.
To understand whether your air conditioner can work as a heating device, it is enough to carefully study its technical characteristics. They indicate the range of ambient temperatures at which the split system is allowed to operate. If the manufacturer noted that the device can operate in heating mode, but provided that it is not colder than ‑5 degrees outside, and you turn it on in damper weather, say, when the mercury column drops to ‑10, this will lead to a change properties of compressor oil and freon circulating through the system, which will become a source of further problems.
What is a heat pump
In the catalog of the company “Smart Climate” there are models of split systems with a wide range of operating temperatures. Frost-resistant air conditioners are also presented here, capable of heating the room, even when the temperature outside drops to ‑35 degrees. This kind of climate technology is called heat pumps. They differ from standard models in the special structure of the compressor, some design changes in the external unit and the automation system used.
Heat pumps are sometimes referred to as reversible air conditioners. This means that they can reorient the flow of freon in the opposite direction, due to which they pump heat into the room, even when it is cold outside. To understand how it works, it is worth referring to the principle of operation of all split systems.
When cooling, the air conditioner circuit is filled with liquid freon. When this medium enters the outdoor unit, it flows into the condenser under the action of the excess pressure created by the compressor. Here, liquid freon is blown by air currents and gives off its heat. Further, this substance, under the action of the same excess pressure created by the compressor, flows into the expansion valve, where the diameter of the main pipe expands sharply, which means that the pressure drops. Due to this, freon changes its state of aggregation from liquid to gaseous, which leads to a rapid drop in its temperature. In this form, it enters the second heat exchanger (evaporator), which is located indoors. Already cold gaseous freon takes heat from the surrounding air and, turning into a liquid state, again enters the external unit, where the whole cycle is repeated from the very beginning.
During heating, the principle of operation of the heat pump is reversed. It is not heated liquid freon that enters the external unit, but a cooled gaseous refrigerant. If its temperature is, say, ‑30 degrees, then it will be able to take heat even from frosty air with temperatures up to ‑25 degrees. The resulting thermal energy will be directed inside the room, working to heat it. At the same time, the compressor will force the freon back through the expansion valve, where it will contract sharply, which will raise its temperature.
Advantages and disadvantages of heating with heat pumps
In a number of European countries, split systems are often used as the main heating device. Some European homeowners follow their example. The explanation for this decision is a number of advantages provided by heating with air conditioning.
- Easy to install and operate. You do not need to debug a gas or solid fuel boiler. It is enough to install climate equipment once, which can later be controlled using a remote control or a special Wi-Fi module.
- High level of efficiency. Heat pumps convert 1 kW of electricity into
3–5kW of heat. Gas and solid fuel boilers cannot boast of such efficiency.
- aesthetic appeal. By installing an air conditioner as the main source of heating, you will rid the room of pipes and radiators.
- Safety. When the air conditioner is running, there is no “air burning” effect. The combustion process is not used at all to produce thermal energy.
- Functionality. The same split system can work both for heating and cooling, which will provide a comfortable microclimate in winter and summer.
When deciding whether to heat a house or apartment with an air conditioner, remember that you are actually switching to heating from electricity. This is important to consider when planning the budget for the maintenance of the premises. There is another drawback — air conditioners with a heat pump function have limitations in terms of operating temperatures, but the weather outside the window practically does not affect the functioning of standard heaters.
How to choose a heat pump for heating your home in winter
When deciding which model of a split system to purchase for installation in a house or apartment, pay attention to several key parameters.
- Operating temperature range for heating and cooling. The wider it is, the less likely it is that you will need to heat the room with alternative heat sources.
- Service area. It is desirable that it be 20% larger than the dimensions of the room that you plan to heat with air conditioning. However, it is important to remember that the higher the power of climate technology, the greater its price.
- Energy efficiency class. This parameter also affects the cost. Premium series models usually demonstrate maximum energy efficiency. However, by overpaying once, you will recoup your investment due to significant savings on electricity.
- The presence of an inverter. If ordinary channel systems operate according to the ON / OFF scheme, then inverter models differ in that most of their mechanisms always function, but at low powers sufficient to maintain the set temperature. This protects against peak loads, which has a positive effect on the energy efficiency and service life of the air conditioner.
There are a large number of split systems on the market that are suitable for full-fledged heating. Understanding their diversity is sometimes difficult. If you still have difficulties with the choice, you can always seek advice from the employees of the Smart Climate company, who will select the best solution for you from an extensive catalog of modern climate control equipment.